Coming off the 2019-20 college football season, most Louisville fans were thinking about a nine or ten win season for 2020-21. Then Covid hit and everyone was just hoping to have any football at all. Once it was established there would in fact be football, those expectations reared up again. Despite having two less non-conference games (1 being an easy win) on the new Covid schedule, Louisville fans still kept their expectations of a nine or ten win season.
I mean, Louisville went from a two win season to an eight win season in one year under a new head coach… so is it too much to expect the new coach to get the Cards another win or two in his second year?
Most fans don’t think so but the Vegas “experts” had their doubts by setting Louisville’s regular season win total at 7.5.
I know most of you will say “Yeah but Vegas had Louisville at 3.5 wins last year and they won 8”. Or “those experts had Louisville winning 7 in 2018 and they only won 2 so what do they know?”
Well, you are correct. Those “experts” were off the last two years but more often than not they are correct or very close. So it only stands to reason that they would be very close this year.
But most Louisville fans weren’t having any of the Vegas stuff. They looked at the new Clemson-less schedule and said the only tough game is at Notre Dame but we beat them up there last time so we can do it again. I do know a few people who were really concerned about Pittsburgh and their defense. But still, the general feeling was 9-2 or 10-1.
Fast forward to Sunday September 27th. If you hadn’t watched any college football and woke up Sunday morning to check social media, you would have though that Louisville didn’t know how to play football and their coaching staff had never seen a football before.
I must say that I am completely amazed to see people calling for a new coach or coaching staff, new quarterback and writing derogatory comments about student athletes. I was actually a little bit embarrassed to be a Louisville fan at that point.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for calling out and holding people accountable for not doing their job. I understand as fans you are disappointed with some things. I’m right there with you but let’s slow down a bit and look at the whole picture and not let one or two games define a season.
Let’s start with the opponents in the first three games.
Western Kentucky is currently ranked 60th in total defense. Two miscues led to 14 of the 21 Western points. So as bad as you think the defense is, they realistically only gave up 7 points. The game wasn’t played perfectly but the mistakes seemed fixable.
In the second game against Miami, I was one of those people who thought it would take five or six games for D’Eriq King and the new Miami offense to start clicking. I was wrong. King is really good and he proved it. They are currently raked 14th in the country in total offense. The Miami defense is also much better than I anticipated. They are ranked 8th in the country in tackles for loss. To me, they are a top 10-12 team. Despite how good they are, Louisville put up 34 points and 516 yards. Three Turnovers and two blown defensive plays are what separated Louisville from Miami. But those two blown plays where players were out of position are fixable. I’m not for moral victories but it lets me know that the problem isn’t much deeper and all hope is not lost.
In the third game against Pitt, everyone knew going in that their defense was legit. Despite that, most Louisville fans felt confident that with a their high powered offense they could at least score 21 to 28 points. That should be enough to win because Pitts offense wasn’t exactly potent. Louisville only managed 223 total yards, only 107 passing by Cunningham and only 78 rushing by Hawkins – 75 of those came on his TD run. That Hawkins Touchdown was the first and only rushing TD that Pitt has allowed this year.
Pitt is currently ranked #2 in total defense, #5 in sacks and #3 in tackles for loss.
Now that we know how good the Louisville opponents really are let’s take a look at all the things the Louisville fans are complaining about.
First let’s start with the defense. I’ve heard so much talk about how terrible the defense is. But realistically, they are not nearly as bad as it appears on social media. Louisville is currently ranked 29th in the country in total defense. Last year they finished outside the top 100. Take away the two terrible miscues from the Miami game and this defense is top 25. They are ranked 14th in tackles for loss and Dorian Etheridge leads the nation in TFL with 8.5. LB, Yasir Abdullah played an amazing game against Pitt and I believe he is only going to get better as the season goes on. Also in the Pitt game, after the first quarter the defense only gave up 10 points.
The offensive line is another area I’ve seen called out on social media. I’ll say this, at the beginning of the WKU game, they looked a little shaky and unsure of where to go or assignments. But as the game progressed they seemed to get things together. I left that game feeling pretty good about the O-line going forward. In the next two games they seemed to get pushed around a bit but as we already established, the guys on theater side of the ball were pretty good. Sometimes you just have to give the other team credit and stop thinking your guys are terrible. Because they are not. Something else Louisville fans need to consider is that they are replacing two guys on the O-line that are now playing in the NFL. One was the best to ever play that position in the schools history The other (Haycraft) doesn’t get the credit he deserves because he started as a walk-on… but he was much more valuable than people realize. Also, one does not simply replace a guy like Mekhi Becton – Never forget that fact.
And what about you guys calling for Satterfield to be fired or saying that this is the ACC and isn’t App state level of football? I really don’t understand you and why weren’t you saying that last year during those eight wins or Music City Bowl victory? Did Louisville not play in the ACC lat year? Maybe I missed something. It’s his 2nd year. He is stilll winning with mostly Bobby’s players. Give him a chance to get his guys in there. I assume you have seen the recruiting ranking. Correct? Louisville is on pace to have one of their top three classes all time. Think about that before you hit the Tweet button.
My buddy Sam Basden said on the last CSZ podcast that the back-up QB is the most popular player on the team. That is one of my favorite lines because it’s so true. When things aren’t going great everyone calls for the QB’s head. While Malik isn’t having a repeat of last season, he isn’t terrible either. Sometimes he tends to try to do too much but I’d rather him try to hard than not try at all. He is currently ranked 5th in country in passing yards with 757 and 20th in the country in passing yards per completion at 14.02.
Louisville fans, let’s not completely freak out. We’ve established the teams we have played are pretty good and that Louisville isn’t that bad. They currently rank 38th in total offense and 29th in defense. In my opinion, Louisville has a chance to win seven of their remaining eight games. I’d say six at worst. So that would put Louisville’s regular season win total at seven or eight. Coincidentally, that is pretty close to the 7.5 wins the Vegas experts predicted. Amazing how that works.
My realistic expectations for the new coaching staff was 4-5 wins in year one. 6 wins and a bowl game in year two. In year three, I expected 7-9 wins and a better bowl game. From there on out I expected 8-10 wins annually. Coach Satterfield and company really exceeded expectations in year one but that shouldn’t change my original expectations very much, if at all.
Don’t let the accelerated success of last year spoil you and raise your expectations too much. You are only setting yourself up for disappointment. We are only three games into the season. Let it play out before you start your ill-advised social media rants. I promise you the defense will be better than last year and the offense will return to form soon. I trust the guy in charge to get it done. Let’s sit back and support this team.
As always, GO CARDS!